Book review: Hitman by Garth Ennis

Hitman, Vol. 1: A Rage in ArkhamHitman, Vol. 1: A Rage in Arkham by Garth Ennis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sometimes you read something that leaves you scratching your head. I think this is one of those books. Either that or I need to change shampoo.

Garth Ennis’ Hitman is an interesting tale, almost something you would expect from a different publishing house to DC Comics. Tommy Monaghan is a freelance hitman working in Gotham city when he is bitten by a demon and picks up the ability to hear people’s thoughts, see through walls and wear sunglasses at night without looking like a douchebag. With his new abilities he makes the move into killing supercriminals. And since he works in Gotham, Tommy is soon confronting Batman. Well, Garth Ennis’ version of Batman….

I’m a huge fan of Garth Ennis’ work. He combines interesting story lines with humour and irreverence, simultaneously embracing and satirising whatever genre he is writing in. The Boys would have to be one of my favourite series, and Garth’s run in Punisher Max is legendary. It is these two series that leave me scratching my head about Hitman. There are a lot of similarities between Hitman and Punisher, and the main character of Tommy bears no small resemblance to Butcher from The Boys. So for me, having read Punisher and The Boys first, Hitman feels like a pale imitation – despite coming first.

So despite this being at times confusing (a poetic demon who inhabits a human discusses stuff with himself… oookaaay…) and unpolished versions of the above mentioned series, I did enjoy reading about Tommy killing people in Gotham.

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7 thoughts on “Book review: Hitman by Garth Ennis

    1. Tell me if you have similar thoughts, as I read this because it was one of the few series of his I hadn’t read as well.

      Also, if you haven’t yet, check out Ennis’ new series Rover Red Charlie.


      1. I’ve never even heard of that. I’ll have to check it out. He’s got that new sci-fi series out with Avatar that’s supposed to be really good too. But I haven’t read that either.


      2. Eh, that’s not a huge selling point to me. I’m a big fan of Garth. But I got burned out on him for a while. When I was a teenager, he was fucking great. The over the topness of it all, full of black humor, and ultra violent. Sick for sick’s sake.

        Then after a while it started to feel one note, and I got bored of it. I particularly thought “The Boys” was like that. It felt like he was writing a whole series about boners. Then to break it up, there would be six issues of nothing but dialogue. I heard that series turns around at the end and is great. But I couldn’t make it through the slog.

        It wasn’t until the Shadow and Fury stuff recently, that I kind of got into him again. He’s a damn good writer, but I need a little change from time to time. If he’s going back to the “skull fucking and anal rape well”, then I think I’ll pass.


      3. I meant more of the bleak stuff with the violence, not the gratuitous violence, nudity and depravity of Crossed.

        And I know what you mean. Reading a bunch of Garth’s stuff all at once can feel like one long rape joke. I liked The Boys because I read it as it was released, so plenty of other stuff in between. Not sure how it would be in one sitting from a collected volume.


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